OVERNIGHT TECH: Privacy groups unimpressed with tweaks to GOP cyber bill

But the changes weren’t enough to appease privacy advocates.

Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told The Hill that the new bill is still “fundamentally flawed.” She said the changes are only “around the edges” and “don’t get at the central problems in the bill.”

{mosads}In particular, she expressed concern that it allows the National Security Agency and the military to directly collect information on Americans’ Internet use. She also noted that companies are not required to strip out personally identifiable information from the data they turn over to the government.

Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, said the senators made “only modest improvements, perhaps the most significant of which are tightening the description of the threat information that can be shared ‘notwithstanding any law,’ and tightening the mandatory information sharing language.” 

“To put it gently, though, they left themselves a lot of room for further improvement,” he said.

Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior policy counsel for the Constitution Project, said he welcomes the privacy changes, but the legislation “continues to pose serious threats to civil liberties.”

Although the Republicans may not have won over the privacy groups, they showed there is still vigorous opposition to the White House’s preferred cybersecurity bill, which is sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The Republicans did not even attempt to address the protection of critical infrastructure, the primary concern for Lieberman, Collins and the White House.

The Lieberman-Collins bill would set mandatory security standards for critical infrastructure systems, such as electrical grids and gas pipelines. Supporters of the standards say they are necessary to prevent a catastrophic attack, but the Republicans argue the mandates would unnecessarily burden businesses.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he plans to bring the Lieberman-Collins bill to a vote next month.

Asked to comment on the new version of Secure IT, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden spoke only generally about the administration’s vision for cybersecurity legislation.

“The President called on Congress to pass critical cybersecurity legislation in the State of the Union,” she said in an email. “The Administration also sent Congress its own legislative proposal focused on improving cybersecurity for the American people, our nation’s critical infrastructure and the Federal Government’s own networks while preserving privacy and civil liberties as well as fostering continued economic growth. Cybersecurity legislation must include robust privacy protections and address the very serious risks facing the Nation’s critical infrastructure.”

Grassley uses Falcone woes to smack FCC, again: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said the charges filed against hedge fund manager Philip Falcone on Wednesday bolster his claim that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mishandled its review of Falcone’s wireless business, LightSquared.

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Falcone misused client funds, manipulated financial markets and betrayed investors.

Grassley has long accused the FCC of giving LightSquared special treatment and taking too long to recognize that its network could interfere with GPS devices. The GOP senator held up President Obama’s two nominees to the FCC for months in a bid to force the agency to release documents related to its review of LightSquared.

“When I raised concerns regarding the SEC’s multiple, serious investigations of Mr. Falcone to the FCC, I got the brush-off,” Grassley said in a statement on Wednesday. “Now it turns out those concerns appear to have been well-founded. It appears the FCC nearly granted billions of dollars in taxpayer assets to someone accused by our nation’s financial regulator of having ‘victimized’ ‘clients and market participants alike’ and leading a ‘graduate school course in how to operate a hedge fund unlawfully.’ Maybe the next time, the FCC won’t be so dismissive about concerns raised about its business.” 

T-Mobile CEO quits, possibly joins competitor: Philipp Humm, CEO of T-Mobile, resigned on Wednesday. 

The company said he wanted to “pursue a career outside of [parent-company] Deutsche Telekom” and reunite with his family in Europe. 

Tech blog GeekWire says it obtained an internal memo saying that Humm was asked to leave early because he will be joining an unnamed competitor.


Congress mulls overhauling video rules 

FCC cracks down on Comcast for violating conditions of NBC merger  

AllThingsD recaps Google’s announcement of its “Nexus Q” media streaming device.

Also, Google showed off its Project Glass device by having some people jump out of a plane over San Francisco. The Verge has the video.

Tags Chuck Grassley Harry Reid Susan Collins

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